The 16-rider grid is set for the inaugural Aragon Grand Prix, Round 13 of the 2010 MotoGP Championship, with Ducati Team rider Casey Stoner on the pole.
It’s the second pole for the Australian, his first being at the season-opener race in Qatar. Stoner posted a blistering 1:48.942, the only rider under 1:49.
Joining him on the front row are the two Spaniards that are in a intense battle for the title, Fiat Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo and Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa, respectively.
The second-row riders were the last three to post under the 1:50 mark, and it consists of Stoner’s teammate Nicky Hayden, Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rider Ben Spies and LCR Honda rider Randy de Puniet.
The reigining world champion, Valentino Rossi, qualifed in seventh. The field is missing a rider, Rizla Suzuki’s Loris Capirossi, who will miss the Motorland Aragon GP due to a hand injury he sustained at Misano.
Here’s what the riders were saying after Saturday’s qualifying results:
Dani Pedrosa says: “I’m happy to be on the front row as this was our main target for this afternoon’s session. I just made a little mistake and ran wide on my last fast lap when I was going well and was 0.2s ahead, so I think pole position could have been possible, but the front row is the important thing. So now we must just stay focused and get a good start because the first corner is quite near to the start line which means it will be important to get a clean run into there.”
“It’s a new track where we haven’t raced before so the main question is how the tires will work over a full race distance. Our performance over the last few races has been great and I want to try as hard as possible for the victory here. Everyone has come into this weekend with a blank sheet of paper so maybe it could be one of the most open races of the season.”
Andrea Dovizioso says: “Our race pace is reasonable, but to be honest I’m not very happy with the session, and starting from the third row is not where we wanted to be. It’s difficult because we’re lacking some speed and we haven’t narrowed it down to one particular problem. So we need to look at the data and try to analyze what changes we can make for the warm-up tomorrow.”
We need to improve our speed in the centre of the corners and also the fluidity of the handling. For the race our pace is not so bad but starting from the third row is a handicap – especially because the first corner is very slow and so you cannot easily recover positions there. Still, we’ve proved previously that we can have good a race from this position and that’s what we’ll try to do again.”
Jorge Lorenzo says: “I’m riding well and I am happy about how I have improved my riding style in every practice to better suit this new track. I also understand the track better on every lap so this helps me to be faster. We are losing some time on the straight at the end of the lap so we have to be very strong in all the other parts to try to make up for it. We can’t do anything about this so it’s important that I know how to ride the rest of the track perfectly. I think tomorrow could be quite an exciting race for us and for the fans and for sure it will be a hard fight for me, but I will do my best as usual to get on the podium.”
Valentino Rossi says: “This morning was a bit of a disaster! This afternoon things were a bit better but we are still not that fast. Unfortunately, with the softer Bridgestone tire at the end for my fast lap I made a small mistake and lost half a second, otherwise I think I could have been fourth. Now we have to start from the third row and the start of the race will be very important because I have to try to improve my position and stay with the leaders. We have some ideas and we will use the warm-up to try to find a way to improve our pace. It will be a hard and long race but we will do our best.”
Casey Stoner says: “We’ve been trying different things for the last few weekends to try and get the bike more competitive without making really big progress but it looks like we might have found something here. We’ve changed the weight distribution a little bit and it has given me more grip and confidence. Maybe it’s just the fact the bike suits this place but either way we’ve got to be happy to be back on pole for the first time since Qatar. I also like riding at new circuits – when you haven’t already done a million laps around a place it’s always refreshing.”
“We have to wait and see how the race pans out and see if I can run with these guys because we’ve had a few false dawns already this season so we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves but we feel good in race trim and I’m looking forward to it.”
Nicky Hayden says: “Overall it’s been a positive day. We have had two dry sessions and I had fun – we constantly made the bike a little bit faster and even though it would have been nice to be on the front row, we’re only a tenth off, the team is doing a great job and we have to be satisfied. For Casey and I to be in the top four shows that the bike is working really well around here. On the Ducati simulator the best lap I had was a 1’49.1 and the pole time was a 1’48.9 so that’s impressive, somebody back in Bologna is doing their homework! They’re doing a great job and tomorrow it’s my turn to try and bring something home for the team.”
Ben Spies says: “I’m pretty happy to be on the second row again and I managed to put in some decent laps on the race tire that bodes well for tomorrow. I can still improve the bike and make it steer better in the longer corners because in the tight and twisty sections we’ve got it working pretty well. I’m in that top six battle where I need to be and I’m satisfied with that because I’m still in that fight for the top three in the championship.”
“The start will be crucial because we’re lacking a little bit of speed on the straight, so I need to get off the line good to try and go with those guys at the front. This track has got a lot of passing opportunities so it should be fun and a pretty good race for the fans to watch. I’m just trying to stay in that top six for the rest of the season but it is good that I’m consistently able to qualify and race with the fastest riders in MotoGP.”
Colin Edwards says: “I started the session on the hard tire and then switched to the softer compound to try and get my grid position but I had a bit of spinning and couldn’t really get the best out of it. At that point I thought it would be better to try and qualify with the hard tire because it was a bit more stable and I’d been able to run a better lap time. So for the last run I had a new hard and a new soft tire to choose from and I went for the hard.”
“All weekend I’d gone faster on the hard tire but the last one I couldn’t get the same feeling. I came back in with only four minutes to go and put the last soft tire in knowing I’d only get one lap in. I scrubbed the tire off as good as I could on the out lap and got my head down but I made a couple of really small mistakes that cost me a couple of places on the grid. Tomorrow is my 100th race for Yamaha and as always I’ll be giving it the best effort I can.”
Randy de Puniet says: “After yesterdays engine brake issues the guys worked in the right way to improve the bike and this second row makes me very confident for tomorrows race. We just lacked some rear grip in this morning session but we made another step forward in the afternoon.”
“I finally enjoyed riding my bike after the bad injury I suffered in Germany. The last month has been very tough for me but now I feel in good shape again and more consistent on this track compared to Misano. Of course I am not at 100 percent yet and I know that this race will be close but I feel more comfortable now and it seems I do not need to push hard to be fast and this is very positive.”
Álvaro Bautista says: “Today I have improved my lap time and I’m quite happy with the progress we have made. I crashed this morning and lost some time, but fortunately there wasn’t any physical problem for me. I tried two different gearboxes in this morning’s session and we chose the best one and concentrated on riding with that one this afternoon. With the race tire this afternoon my rhythm was not too bad and when I put on the softer compound rear tire at the end of the qualifying session I was able to improve my times.”
“The grid position is not that good, but we are very close to the guys in front. If I get a good start tomorrow I feel confident that I can fight to be in the top six. The positive thing about my qualifying time is that I did it on my own and didn’t follow another rider – like some of the others guys out there did. I want to have a good race here tomorrow because it is another home event and I have a lot of fans here to support me, so it is important I put on a good show for them.”
Hiroshi Aoyama says: “Of course I am not satisfied with this position, but we improved regarding this morning and I hope we can continue in this direction. I also hope it will stay dry tomorrow as I prefer the layout of the track in the dry. I hope I will have a good start and can catch the group in front as I was not able to do that in the last race.”
Marco Simoncelli says: “I am pretty happy because I think we were quite strong today but to be completely honest I was hoping to be on the second row and we only missed it by just over a tenth. Anyway, things are going quite well and we’ll see if we can use the information from today to make more improvements for the race. I spent most of the session riding along and I haven’t got much of a reference from the other riders as to where I can improve. Maybe that will change in the race and I am confident I can finally finish in the top six.”
Marco Melandri says: “It has been a very disappointing session. We tried changing the geometry on one of the bikes to try and improve it but as usual whenever we try to change something and push harder the situation is worse. We still have problems with the front on the soft tyre and we are not improving. Once again I have to start from the fifth row and all we can do is wait to see what kind of race it is tomorrow although I’m not expecting a great result.”
Aleix Espargarò says: “The bike has improved a lot even if following some riders faster than me I saw that in some parts of the track I lose too much time. Particularly in long corners I cannot close the lane as I would. Now, thanks to the work of my engineers, we will try to find a good technical compromise to try in tomorrow’s warm up. I really hope to find a good solution for tomorrow’s race because many of my fans will be in the stands of this wonderful circuit.”
Mika Kallio says: “We tried everything but nothing has led us to make that leap that we need at this time. We are too distant from the riders ahead of us and I am sure that this is not my position. Tomorrow I’ll put on the track all the anger I have inside me to gain a good position in the race for me and my team.”